When older adults have pets, they live happier, healthier lives. Research shows that owning a pet has many benefits, including better heart health, more exercise, better socialization, and better mental health. Pets require care and compassion and can give people a sense of purpose and responsibility.
Jump to these sections:
- What is a pet-friendly assisted living facility?
- What things should you look for in a pet-friendly assisted living facility?
- How do you find a pet-friendly assisted living facility?
For seniors who have had a pet for several years, it's like having a member of the family. The bond that develops is strong and lasting. When it's time to make a move, the thought of parting with a pet is heartbreaking. Therefore, if possible, every effort should be made to find a facility that will accept your loved one's pet.
More and moreassisted livingcommunities recognize the value of pets to their residents and develop policies and procedures to make it possible. As you search for a pet-friendly assisted living facility, let's look at some questions to ask and things to look for to make it a positive experience.
What is a pet-friendly assisted living facility?
A pet-friendly assisted living facility allows residents to keep certain animals in their apartments or rooms. Along with that permit come specific rules regarding what type and size of animal are allowed and care requirements.
Not all assisted living facilities will be the same, so make sure your pet can live with you before you sign on the dotted line. Also, consider the additional risks and issues associated with bringing a pet into a new environment. Changes can be hard on animals, which can also create behavior problems. In particular, your dog may have had unlimited access to the outdoors, which may not be possible in assisted living.
Any assisted living community will require that you be able to care for your pet and keep your apartment and common areas clean.
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What things should you look for in a pet-friendly assisted living facility?
Depending on the type of pet you have, there are specific things to look for to keep you and your pet comfortable. Also, don't forget that other residents in assisted living may have issues with individual pets, so you want to know if your neighbor has a specific fear or allergy to your pet.
Living in assisted living also requires that you become part of a community where you want to respect people's differences and be aware of how your pet affects other people. If you can't find a place that suits your needs, be sure to keep an eye out for othershousing options for seniors.
1. Disposal Areas
If your loved one has a dog, there should be a place for them to relieve themselves safely and cleanly. Some assisted living facilities have a designated area, and others expect you to take your dog outside. If that's the case, you'll want to explore the area around the building to see what's available and allowed. Having to walk a long distance for this purpose could be challenging for you, so keep this in mind.
Things are a bit easier for a cat as they can use a litter box, but you are still expected to keep it clean. For example, if you have a bird, keeping the cage clean is your responsibility. Assisted living flooring can be carpet or wood, and you don't want to damage that area with pet waste.
2. Walking areas
You will have to take your dog for a walk. In some cases, that can happen in the building, but most people will need to take their dog out to eliminate it anyway. Having a safe and pleasant area to walk your dog should be a priority. An assisted living community that is surrounded by busy streets may not be ideal. Dogs get loose and you want a safe area. Is there a park nearby? Are the walking areas safe at all times of the day?
3. Other residents
If you can, knowing who your neighbor is could be a big help in making a decision. A neighbor who doesn't like dogs could end up creating a conflict later. Especially if your dog barks. Barking dogs can create a big problem in assisted living. Or if you have a dog that tends to jump on people.
Frail older residents could be at risk even if a small dog jumps on them. The potential to knock someone down could be catastrophic for that person. You will probably need to keep a dog on a leash at all times, so make sure your dog is leash trained.
4. Barking dogs
As we mentioned before, a barking dog in a community can lead to conflicts and complaints. For you, the barking may not be a problem at all because you have gotten used to it. Please speak openly with staff before you move in to discuss ways you will work to mitigate this issue.
How do you find a pet-friendly assisted living facility?
Rule number one: In your search for pet-friendly assisted living, don't overlook other factors when making a decision about which assisted living to choose. Your pet is important, but you don't want to choose assisted living that doesn't meet your other requirements just so you can move in with your pet. Try it and have it all!
Do an online search
An online search can give you a lot of information up front about pet policies and procedures. Please call to make sure the information online is current and accurate.
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Use a local senior referral specialist
An experienced senior living referral specialist can be an incredible asset in finding a pet-friendly assisted living community. If possible, avoid national companies that are trying to find you a job. These companies typically send your information to various assisted living marketing staff, and you may be inundated with phone calls.
A local specialist will have hands-on experience finding not only a pet-friendly community, but one that meets your other needs as well. He can expect personal tours and experience with policies and costs.
ask for references
Friends, health care providers, and others may have first-hand information about suitable assisted living facilities for pets.
Ask around for ideas and personal references. If you know someone who has a pet in assisted living, visit them and ask for a tour and details on how they are doing. Talk to your friend about any problems they encountered and how they were handled.
Talk to a geriatric care manager or social worker
geriatric care managersThey are usually paid for privately, but a one-time consultation might be worth it to find out what they know about pet-friendly assisted living. If you are in rehab or in the hospital, talk to your social worker about assisted living communities that accept pets.
What questions should you ask a pet-friendly assisted living facility?
It's a good idea to ask lots of questions and, when possible, ask to see written pet policies. The more responses you get, the more informed decision you can make. You don't want surprises after you and your pet have already moved.
How much does it cost?
There will surely be an additional cost to have a pet in assisted living. This will be an additional amount added to your monthly bill for some communities, and there may also be a pet deposit. You may also be liable for any damage your pet does while living there.
What is the maximum weight?
If you have a large dog, you most likely will not be allowed to bring that animal into assisted living with you. The typical weight limit is 15 to 20 pounds. The safety of the other residents is the main reason there is a weight limit. Some communities will make fun of this a bit, but don't count on it.
What breeds are allowed?
Some communities will not allow dogs with behavior problems. Temper issues may need to be addressed, as staff will need to enter your residence without the threat of harm. Take an honest look at your pet's behavior. If you have a dog that tends to bite people, this could be cause for concern.
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Are other types of pets allowed?
If you have another type of pet, such as a bird, hamster, snake, or other type of reptile, are they allowed? Please ask to see specific pet policies regarding types. Also, there may be a limit to the number of pets you can have.
Is there a pet care policy?
Some communities require that you designate a person who is willing to care for the animal if you are unable to. The idea of having a backup is a good idea anyway in case you have an accident or illness that prevents you from caring for your pet. Some of these facilities may have staff available to fill in if necessary, for an additional cost.
How are complaints handled?
Complaints about pets in assisted living are a common occurrence. Not everyone will love your pet as much as you do. With that in mind, what is the policy for handling complaints? Should I have additional liability insurance if someone threatens to sue?
Where can you take your pet in the community?
Most assisted living communities have many common areas for residents to gather. Some are unstructured and others are adapted to activities like movies and classes. Ask where your pet can go and what areas are off-limits. For example, it is unlikely that you will be able to take your pet to the canteens.
If you have a cat, can your cat roam the halls outside your apartment? Some communities allow this with certain restrictions.
What are the designated walking and disposal areas?
Ask to see these pet areas so you can get an idea of whether the environment is right for your pet. An active dog may need more space to run, which may not be available.
Are there age limits or training requirements?
Ask about the minimum age of a pet. Some communities require a dog to be at least one year old and housebroken with proof of vaccinations. In general, you'll want to make sure your pet is vaccinated to keep his health in top condition.
Pet Friendly Assisted Living
Having a pet is a positive and beneficial experience. When you're ready to move into assisted living, following our steps and asking questions will ensure you and your pet are happy.